The Odd Couple - CEO and CIO


The relationship between CEOs and CIOs is an interesting one. The health of this critical partnership is all over the map – from bonhomie to absolute distrust. Unfortunately, no matter where your relationship is on the map, chances are it is based on ignorance.

This odd couple has reached their respective vantage points growing up on two different coasts of the “business” continent. The CEO is typically your “business type,” wanting to prove their tech savvy but knowing little if anything about leveraging IT to create business value. By business type, our run of the mill CEO is fixated on numbers whether from a marketing or financial perspective. And when they are not, they are seeped in the latest “leadership” or “team building” mumbo jumbo coming from some guru perched on an ivory tower – never actually having led or built anything. The CIO on the other hand has a tough time hiding their protractors and propellers but carrying the latest magazine article on “business.”

Well, if wearing a pointy hat made one a magician then our blackberry carrying CEO is tech savvy and our Harvard Business Review wielding CIO is a business person.

This is a caricature of sorts but often we need one to make a point. Mine being: if the CEO and CIO relationship is to work, both parties need to shed their ignorance. Step 1, as with any addiction correction program, is the acknowledgement of this ignorance.

This article quotes a Forrester study that found that 60% of CEOs satisfied with the “overall” performance of IT. Huh? And how did they reach this conclusion? What were the criteria used by the ones who were satisfied versus those who weren’t?

While this game of “proof by research” continues, one has to figure out ways to maximize IT value, a critical component of which is the relationship between the CEO and CIO. And good relationships are based on knowledge and trust.

I do not agree with Mr. Colony that CIO should not have the skill set to drive innovation. This viewpoint is based on the premise that IT is an enabler of business models. Have you heard of that little technology called the internet? How has that changed your business model or are you still trying to figure that out?

Bottom line is that technology does drive business change and the CIO role must be able to distinguish innovation from a sausage. Better yet, understand it so well that they can actually use it to create business value. (and then send an email to the CEO that they can read on their blackberry!)

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Posted on 06/02/2009 by


The Odd Couple - CEO and CIO author sourabhhajela

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